Social Media Marketing - How To Do it Right?
Social media marketing refers to marketing with the intention of increasing website traffic and sales, through the use of social media. This type of marketing relies heavily on the content that is being put out on social networks. The message or story has to carry some kind of substance in order for people for find it interesting. The ultimate goal is to have the story shared by those in the company’s social network, with their friends and then on to more friends, making the story spread to more viewers. When an article, post or tweet expands multiple levels beyond the company’s social network, it is said to have gone “viral”. Social media marketing is in essence a word-of-mouth campaign carried out over the Internet.
What is a Social Media
A social media site is classified as a place where individuals can meet and connect in various ways, such as interacting with each other, communicating with one another, sharing information, photos and music. The most popular social networking sites are free and are easily accessible through any desktop computer or mobile device. What’s great about social media is that it allows consumers to connect with companies and brands, in a way that was not previously possible. It allows the brand to foster a relationship with individuals, strengthening its image and creating customer loyalty. Since most social networks are free to join, SMM (social media marketing) is an inexpensive, yet effective tool to run marketing campaigns on.
Reach of Social Media
Social media marketing has even breached the bounds of desktop computers or laptops and has leaped into cell phones. With the development of mobile applications, users are now able to share content at an even faster rate, making stories go viral that much quicker. Many modern cell phones have even incorporated social networking, giving users advanced notifications of updates in the social networking sites they are subscribed to. This development opened up opportunities for companies and brands to update their followers about events, new products or features in almost real-time communication.
How Social Media Benefits Companies?
Social media marketing’s strategy lies in the engagement between the company and its customers. You want to make customers and stakeholders both participate in the discussion. By generating a two-way communication, you encourage the consumer in sharing information, opinions and ideas. In return, the company offers product or brand updates and gives the loyal followers special promotions not available to the general public. This creates goodwill between the company and the customers, making customers more likely to speak positively about the brand.
Social Media Helps Changing Perceptions
Positive opinions are very important in the promotion and marketing of products or services. Most consumers in this “information era” are likely to research, price compare and seek reviews on any product they are going to purchase. People take consumer reviews very seriously, as they are a good reflection of a possible experience they will have with the product/service. That being said, if there is a positive review from a user who happens to be a social media “friend”, consumers are more likely to choose that product over a competitor’s brand. So creating a loyal customer base through social media encourages followers to become brand advocates to family, friends and others in their social networks.
Now that we have discussed how Social media marketing works in a nut-shell, let’s take a look at some of the most popular social networking sites. This is not an exhaustive list, but simply a look at the largest ones where SMM is more relevant and effective. We are going to look at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp and YouTube.
Twitter is a microblogging site where each message or “tweet” can only contain 140 characters. The messages need to be simple and concise in order for people to understand what is being said. Although the messages have to be short, you can link to external content or photos using of a shortened link. There are sites out there to help achieve a shortened link such as bit.ly or owl.ly. By using compelling catch phrases and linking to external content, messages go viral very quickly on Twitter.
Facebook was one of the first social networking sites to hit the scene and can be considered the gold standard of social media. With over 800 million active users, the customer reach that can be achieved is huge. Where Facebook surpasses Twitter is in the fact that companies can create their own pages where individuals can join their online community or simply “Like” the company. Another benefit is that Facebook also allows content to be published right inside of the social network, such as video, audio and photos without having to lead traffic to another site.
LinkedIn is a business-related site meant strictly for industry professionals. Individuals and companies alike can create profiles on LinkedIn in order to network with one another for job or sales purposes. Individuals can join groups or follow companies in order to receive exclusive content pertaining to the company or group. Some groups are so exclusive that a member in the group must accept your offer of admission. This basically means that if you are not an active member in a particular industry or organization, you are not allowed to be a part of this group. This helps eliminate wasted coverage in your SMM efforts and helps keep you focused on particular target markets. LinkedIn is a very common tool used by sales professionals for this reason.
Yelp works like the Yellow Pages, where businesses and their profiles are indexed in Yelp’s database. Yelp members share business information, photos of their products or services and even have consumer reviews posted on their profile. There are also messaging boards and talk features for visitors to use.
YouTube is a video streaming site where tags, explanations, descriptions or full-length articles can be attached beneath the videos. It gives companies an inexpensive medium to showcase their products or services with videos, without having to use traditional TV advertising. Companies can also create custom channels for content they put up and customers can subscribe to their channels, getting updates whenever new content is posted.
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